Published: Written By: James Lawson

Blue rotating beacon on white reflective background.Police forces today face increasing public expectations and scrutiny, ever more complex criminal threats, and a growing need to integrate service delivery with other agencies. By 2020, they will have to deliver improved services despite significant financial constraints.

In response to this challenge, we have just published a report on how police forces can harness the power of digital. Through our research we drew upon lessons from the private sector, and explain how to drive successful adoption for the next generation law enforcement agencies.

As criminal activity and interactions with civilians move digital, the traditional police model will need to evolve. Providing a physical security presence in 2020 will no longer be enough to deter and respond to crime. Police forces must learn to harness digital technology if they are to deliver a service that is fit for 2020.

Learning from digital in the Private Sector

Private-sector enterprises use digital technologies to maximise the time their workforces spend on delivering core services and meeting customer needs. If applied to policing, digital technologies can push the boundaries of what is possible across four lenses:

  • Proactive policing – deterring criminal activity through proactive action, driven by data analytics and evidence-based policing
  • Digital engagement and digital contact management – multi-channel communication with the public, facilitating online crime reporting and crowd-sourced intelligence, investigation via social media platforms and the provision of digital channels for low risk / no risk contact with the Police, so reducing the demand on emergency phone lines
  • Mobile workforce optimisation – neighbourhood and response officers patrolling the beat more regularly, enabled by mobile devices which they can use to receive tasking and intelligence, search internal systems, capture statements and record supporting evidence
  • Digital investigation – digital case files containing evidence and the latest forensics, developed and edited by multiple officers on the move and shared in real time with the Crown Prosecution Service.  The digital policing secenario (GRAPHIC)The steps to successful digitisation of policing

Simply procuring devices does not constitute a successful digital transformation. It requires a holistic view of the enterprise architecture – including processes, information, technology and people. Based on the lessons learned from the private sector, these five steps will help in introducing digital effectively:

  1. Create new processes, don’t just re-design – rather than starting with system or device selection, an effective approach to introducing digital technologies brings together three different perspectives: the strategic view of how operational processes need to change, an ‘art-of-the-possible’ view based on emerging technologies, and a user experience view.
  2. Think about the information first, then systems – once the future processess have been designed, forces need to identify what information is required to enable them. They also need to ensure the available information is of sufficient quality to be used with confidence.
  3. Create flexible technology architecture – after confirming the requirements associated with new processes and conducting an information analysis, necessary system functionality can be identified and the most appropriate technologies selected.
  4. Select the right range of devices and create a user-friendly interface – selecting a device-agnostic platform is important for future-proofing a force while still identifying the right balance of devices required to meet its specific needs; users also play a critical role in selection of devices, as gaining their approval can make or break a force’s digital programme.
  5. Don’t let base location drive officer deployment – with real-time mobile access to all required information and the capability for remote briefings, there is no need for officers to be tied to a base station, dynamic scheduling technology can enable the most efficient use of officer’s time.

Digital policing will, in effect, require new recruitment and selection processes for officers. A digital police officer will need to be independent and able to utilize their connected access to better make tactical decisions. This will become increasingly important as the notion of the ‘station’, ‘beat’ and ‘beat sergeant’ will begin to erode.

For police forces ‘ digital’ is about helping officers serve the public more effectively, enabling them to spend more time on problem-solving, providing officers with the information required to make intelligent decisions faster and more effectively.

To learn more about the potential for Digital Policing, you can read the full report here.

James A.D. Lawson is a consultant with Deloitte MCS Limited a member of the Deloitte U.K. Firm

Digital Policing